Businesses east of the intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha can't catch a break. Mosaic Cafe shuttered earlier this week and Parka finally admitted defeat in late September. Though Le Town Talk recently replaced the long-vacant Town Talk Diner, the stretch of Lake Street between the Hiawatha and the Mississippi River is a sort of limbo space. Unless you're a Longfellow diehard, your chances of visiting the area on a regular basis are slim.
But business owners aren't giving up. In December, the former SuperAmerica space on Lake and 39th will become Peppers & Fries, a new burrito and burger grill.
Steve Frias, the owner of Peppers & Fries, is the son of Guillermo and Gloria Frias, who opened Boca Chica Restaurant in St. Paul more than 50 years ago. Naturally, Frias was drawn to the craft, and now hopes to share his love for burgers and burritos with the struggling neighborhood.
The menu is still in the works, but the website suggests that Pepper & Fries will offer burgers, sandwiches, burritos (made the way Frias' parents taught him), appetizers, and salads.
Steve Frias has another passion: baseball. With Peppers & Fries, he'll add this into the mix by converting the vacant space into a sports bar, complete with flat screen TVs, craft brews, and cocktails. According to mockups on the restaurant's website, Frias plans to install three garage doors along the side of the restaurant to accommodate both indoor and outdoor seating.
"I'm happy to see one less vacant property on Lake Street," one E-Democracy.org user wrote. "What an improvement from just a couple of years ago when two guys were living in their van on that vacant property's parking lot, trash dumped all over the place."
An improvement, indeed -- but will it survive? We hope so. For now, we wish Frias and his business the best of luck.
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